Quality Management – Getting the fire under control

As a Quality Manager arriving in a business with very poor performance 
I needed to be seen by the customer as a change point, demonstrate that;
1) I understood and appreciated the situation (from their perspective) and
2) I would take rapid, effective and reliable action to protect them from both problems and risk.
3) I’m not just going to roll over.

Critically, my behaviour had to be consistent whatever the circumstances, presenting an open, honest and receptive yet direct face to the customer, while fully representing our businesses interests, at times a delicate balancing act .



As most of you will recognise, large automotive OEM’s ‘make you an offer you can’t refuse’ by way of ‘help & support’ from their Supplier Development or Management functions. In reality you can of course decline and we resisted these advances strongly, however this approach carries risks as well as opportunities.
Risks; we’ve put ourselves firmly in the spotlight and if we don’t deliver……
Opportunities; control over our actions and direction, potential to rapidly improve our reputation and standing with the customer, both as individuals and as a business.
We were asked by numerous customer contacts, on many occasions, if we were really sure as its ‘unusual for suppliers not to accept our offer’… Yes we were.

Your choice maybe different to ours, be honest with yourselves….Can we fix our issues or do we need help? Asking for support when you need it is a clear sign of intelligent leadership, so don’t be reluctant.
If the answer is that you need help then decide the best source for your business, maybe from the customer or an external source, but think it through carefully first. The customer may appear to be a no cost option but you don’t get anything in this world for free.

Which ever route you decide is best for you and your business, the long and the short of it is that you must deliver results and quickly.
Decide on your priorities, determine targets and goals (interim & long term) then plan how your going to get there. Make sure that you allocate sufficient resource to deliver, any failures will be magnified due to the situation. Above all be realistic while stretching yourselves, there is no point setting targets you can easily achieve. Any improvements you make will benefit your business so challenge yourselves.

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